Celebrating the ‘Bridge Builders’ in Our Community

Last weekend I attended church at St. James Parish, located at 39th and Troost. It was a special Mass honoring the retirement of long-time Parish Administrator Deacon Ross Beaudoin. In his sermon Ross talked about St. James being a “bridge” for the community.

In attendance were judges; homeless men and women; elected officials; people from many different cultures, races and faith traditions; young and old; straight and gay; and folks from many countries from around the world. They all felt welcomed and participated in the Mass. Some of the songs were in a language that I did not understand, but by watching the faces of those who were singing, the music was full of love and joy.

Ross deserves much of the credit for building the “community bridge” at St. James, where no matter your personal beliefs, you feel welcomed and loved. He is a special man who believes that diversity of opinion and culture is an asset because these factors make the discussion around any issue more productive, interesting and inclusive.

Later on Sunday I went to see Barry Daneman and his family. Barry is another bridge builder in Kansas City. For many years he was the face and heart and soul of the UMKC Dental School. He also taught graduate students about health policy, ethics and nonprofit leadership and was a mentor to many of us in the nonprofit community.

Barry has the ability to bring together people with differing points of view to discuss issues of mutual interest. Without Barry’s leadership, thousands of poor children throughout our region would not have access to dental care. Barry was not afraid of controversy; rather, he saw it as an opportunity to learn from each other.

These two outstanding people should be role models for the rest of us. We need more “bridge builders” in our community, people who are willing to listen and learn from each other and find opportunities for cooperation and mutual problem solving.

Thanks to Ross and Barry for your lifetime of work.

Note: On July 4th Barry Daneman passed away. His memorial service was held on Sunday July 7th. Memorial gifts can be made to the Barry Daneman Scholarship Fund at the UMKC Dental School. Rest in Peace my friend…you will be missed!


Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
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